Kosas Palettes

There’s been a lot of buzz around Kosås (example: massive New York Times Magazine feature), and rightly so. These are among the most weightless, modern, beautifully wearable color cosmetics around, boasting enviable performance and perfectly flattering shades along with green-beauty-approved formulas. Read on to learn how founder Sheena Yaitanes — a fine artist with a chemistry background — creates her colors. She’ll also share her secrets for picking and applying the best ones for you.


Ayla: Your colors seem to have a different level of depth and dimension than those we see from other makeup brands. How do you approach color creation? Is this different from the way makeup brands typically do it? 

SHEENA: I approach color from a fine art perspective, the way I would when creating skin tones for a portrait.

The process starts with primary colors, and the intention isn't to achieve a color in a vacuum, but to create tones with all the depth of real human skin.

Once the blend is created, the colors are layered over various skin tones and evaluated again, because color blends optically when you layer it over another color. For example, you can make green by physically blending blue and yellow, but you can also get a visual green if you layer yellow over green. This last step is crucial in creating flattering shades. I'm not sure if other brands have the same process, but it's a subjective experience, so the result depends on the sensibility of the artist.


Ayla: Do all of your colors work across all skin tones?

SHEENA: I can say that most of our colors work across most skin tones. 85% of skin tones fall somewhere along the spectrum of medium, and those people can wear the entire collection. There are some "outlier" skin tones that are trickier to match, for example, very pink, very dark, or very green, but we have plenty of options for those skin tones, too. 


Ayla: Where should we start? Should we choose lip color or cheek/highlighter first? Do we need both?

SHEENA: You do need both a lip and a cheek to complete a look, because when you increase the saturation of one part, you will need to increase the saturation of the other part to create visual balance.

It's nice to start with a lip since that will dominate your look, and then choose the corresponding cheek tone. Matching the undertone of the lip to the undertone of the cheek will be most harmonious.


Ayla: The cheek palettes can be a little daunting to choose from. What’s the best way to pick out shades? And how do you choose between powder or cream formulas?

SHEENA: The easiest way to choose shades is to match the tones of the makeup to the tones of your skin. If you're warm-toned, choose warm shades, and vice versa. You can use the shade chart here to pick both lip and cheek colors.

Drier skin should lean toward a cream blush formula, and oilier skin can be mattified with a powder blush formula. Cream blush also works best when you want to achieve a very natural, dewy look, and powder works best when going for a polished, full makeup look. 


Ayla: What's the best way to tell if you're cool or warm toned?

SHEENA: If gold looks best on you, then you're warm. If silver looks best on you, you're cool. You can also tell by looking at the veins inside your wrist under natural light. If they appear more green, then you're warm, and if they appear more blue, you're cool.


Ayla: Do we need to coordinate our makeup colors with our outfits?

SHEENA: That's actually a great way to determine what lip color to wear! You can get fully dressed, and then decide what's "missing," or what shade would best complete your look. Makeup can be used as an accessory.


Ayla: Can you provide specific tips on how to use the palettes?

SHEENA: The cream palettes work best using your fingers, because the warmth from your hands melts the product right into your skin. With the creams, I like to apply the blush color first, concentrating on the apple of the cheek, and then blending up and out in a swoosh shape to sculpt the cheekbone. Then I pat the highlighter onto the ridge of the cheekbone and in a C shape toward the eye.

To apply the powders, I like to use an angled blush brush. I use the tip of the brush to apply highlighter first, and then body of the brush to sweep color out from the apple of the cheek. 


Ayla: Any lipstick application tips?

SHEENA: Lipstick application is easiest and lasts the longest when you prep the lip properly. Wipe away any residual lip balm or saliva so that the lip is completely dry, then use your middle finger to press and work the lip color into both top and bottom lips. You can stop there and wear the color as a sheer stain, or continue to build the coverage.

When you take the time to press the color into the lip first, it's very easy to then layer it straight from the tube. The lipstick will just know where to go.



We love this smart, stylish lady and her beautiful products. Click here to shop the Kosas collection and here to see that shade finding chart again.